Blues take advantage of fluctuating circumstance

Isn’t it interesting how the sporting landscape can change so immensely in the space of just 7 days?

It had been an enjoyable week on a personal level as I completed my Work Experience at Channel 10 and felt thrilled as I took a glimpse at the professional work involved in the fascinating medium of sports broadcasting. It had been a huge week at Princes Park to say the least, albeit not for the traditional owners in the mighty Blues but their co-tenants; the Melbourne Storm. The successful NRL franchise was almost effectively erased as the club are forced to relinquish their premiership points, past success, dignity and reputation as a result of breaching the salary cap. All of a sudden the Storm aren’t exactly invincible!

Many thought my Blues were fortunate to lose a couple of draft picks and a large sum of money for their similar offence 8 years ago. However the large debt and mediocre on-field performances that followed conveys the fact that getting caught red-handed in that regard can deeply affect a club. Fortunately as we enter a new decade, it is fair to claim those demons have been brushed aside from the proud Carlton Football Club.

Placing the salary cap scandal behind, I have been heavily anticipating this match as I realise this clash may define the Blues season and introduce a huge test of the character that our players obtain. Carlton’s draw over the next month is extremely difficult and can determine whether we are capable of raising the bar and competing admirably with the pace setters of this competition. I was pondering these thoughts as my Dad and I travelled along the Eastern Freeway to the MCG wondering what the Blues would serve on the plate against the feared reigning premiers from Geelong. Our opponents of course slaughtered the talented Port Adelaide outfit just last Sunday.

The noise from the larger than expected crowd is almost deafening, as the match is set into motion. In the early minutes the Geelong line-up are already applying the pressure in the midfield while the pace and crisp disposal is evident from elite players Gary Ablett and David Wojcinski. The latter even managed to leap into the sky to claim a miraculous mark. As Cameron Mooney boots the opening goal my perception is that the height, strength and judgment of the Geelong forwards will prove insurmountable.

But perceptions are almost always incorrect in the long term and the Blues prove that theory as they persist on a goal for goal basis. The mature heads in Murphy, Simpson and Scotland are continuing to rack up disposals while skipper Chris Judd succeeds in breaking away from the scrimmages to clear the ball in his trademark style. The presence of Ryan Houlihan drifting forward as a target is providing more frustration than a William Shatner album for the Geelong contingent. The Blues manage to hit the lead by 5 points at the first change due to major from agile ruckman Matthew Kreuzer, sending me into rapturous applause.

The intensity is at it’s peak in the second stanza as the tackling is impressive from both sides of the spectrum. As a result of undisciplined play from the usually composed Cats, the Blues are able to capatalise on the scoreboard and create a handy buffer of 16 points halfway through the term. Suddenly the Blues are brimming with confidence while in contrast the Cats are frustrated and are unable to produce that clean transitional flow that every football supporter has grown accustomed to. For the second consecutive week the three amigos in Betts, Yarran and Garlett are causing headaches that even Panadol would struggle to cure.

All three crumb the packs and judge the ball superbly as they stroll into the open goal with plenty of pace to burn. Unbelievably the margin extends to beyond 5 goals prior to the main interval. I am joined by the Blues contingent in giving a warm standing ovation to the Blueboys in the bathing sunshine, still mindful that the Cats have the capabilities to come out firing bullets in the second half.

The avalanche continues early in the third term as Jeff Garlett converts yet another major and the cry “Percentage Blues!” is the cry from the cocky Blues supporters (including myself). The Cats provide momentary rejuvenation as admired midfielders James Kelly and Gary Ablett each convert within 60 seconds, and I worry the pendulum may begin to swing. However Judd clicks his team back into gear to deliver respite with his first goal of the afternoon. Another key factor is the immense pressure applied by the Carlton midfield as the Cats are reduced to hacking the ball forward. The defence are holding firm as Jordan Russell and David Armfield provide pace and drive off half back. Meanwhile their opponents in Hawkins, Podsiadly, Mooney and Johnson are virtually unsighted in the goalkicking department, having little influence on the match. At the final break the Blues maintain their 33 point lead.

Both sides trade conversions for the bulk of the final term until the big Irishman Setanta O’hAilpin, complete with the Michael holding run-up technique, boots the sealer from outside the arc. Jeff Garlett places the cherry on top of the cake sprinting into the open goal for a third major. In the final stages I continue to marvel at the way Chris Judd pushes his stamina and endurance to the limit and maintain it until the final second. The siren finally rings, fittingly indicating yet another upset for the weekend with the Blues prevailing by six goals over the talented Geelong outfit.

I walk out of the stadium with immense satisfaction and the realisation that the Blues have the ability to compete and also defeat the sides in the top bracket of the competition. The Cats however have some soul-searching to do and need to learn to prevent the inconsistency that has been shown over the past fortnight.

The sporting landscape really does fluctuate within the space of seven days, after all it was certainly evident with the Cats.

Carlton 4.3 10.8 12.13 15.14 (104)
Geelong 3.4 5.7 7.10 9.14 (68)

Carlton: Garlett 3, Betts 2, Murphy 2, Houlihan 2, Yarran 2, Judd, Kreuzer, O’hAilpin, Scotland
Geelong: Ablett 2, Johnson, Kelly, Hogan, Milburn, Mooney, Selwood, Taylor

My Votes: 3. C.Judd (carl) 2. J.Russell (carl) 1. G. Ablett (geel)

About Damian Watson

Hey,my name is Damian Watson and I am 14 years old. My ambition is to become an AFL broadcaster/journalist in the future. I am a keen blues supporter and I live in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I play and write for the Knox Falcons U/16's.


  1. Steve Healy says

    Great report as always Damo,

    I have noticed your tendency to always mention the Eastern Freeway in your match reports, I’m starting to wonder that you’re being paid by vic roads.

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